Monthly Archives: July 2014

Day 212: Tilden Cake

I’m not sure why but if feels like time to bake a cake again. Perhaps it is because this is the beginning of another long weekend here in Ontario. It is the oddly named “Civic Holiday”. I’ve selected an oddly named cake to make tonight. This one is Tilden Cake. The New Galt Cook Book includes recipes from contributors in other communities including Mrs. C. P. Keefer of St. George.

I creamed the 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar first and then added 4 eggs. Once these were incorporated I started mixing the dry ingredients – 3 cups of flour, 1/2 cup corn starch, 2 teaspoons baking powder. Next I added 1 cup of regular milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon extract. It took a bit of effort to get everything well incorporated. I greased the cake pans and added the batter. I baked it at 350 F. for 40 minutes. Once it was baked and a bit golden on top I removed the cake from the oven. After it cooled a little it was time to taste.

The Keefer's grocery store in St. George, Ontario.

The Keefer’s grocery store in St. George, Ontario.

Mrs. C. P. Keefer has other recipes in this cook book. She is Emily or Emma Guppy. Her husband is Charles Parsons Keefer. Their story is one of the most disturbing of all the women I’ve researched. Emma was born in Newberry in Middlesex County to Rosa and William Guppy in 1858.  She was just 19 when she married Charles in 1877 and moved to his home area in South Dumfries township. I suspect things seemed great when Emma quickly became pregnant with their first child but unfortunately the baby was stillborn in 1878. Another child George Egbert was born in May 1880. A few months later on September 1st tragedy struck again when 21 year old Emma died of typhoid fever. Baby George was just a few months old when his mother died and two weeks later he died of dysentery. He was just four months old. Emma’s husband remarried five years later but they never had children either.

Tilden cake is excellent. The lemon flavour is great and it is a good sturdy cake. I suspect the corn starch helps the texture of the cake. Tilden cake would make a good base for interesting icings or even to use as the base for fruit and whipped cream. I’ll keep this recipe handy for future use. I have no idea why it is called Tilden cake although an internet search reveals it among presidential cakes and even appeared in another cookbooks twenty years before The New Galt Cook Book was published.

TILDEN CAKE
Mrs. C. P. Keefer

One cupful of butter, two of pulverized sugar, one cupful of sweet milk, three cupfuls of flour, half cupful of corn starch, four eggs, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder, two of lemon extract. This is excellent.

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Day 211: Panned Eggs

I’m making Panned Eggs tonight because I needed to clean out a room to prepare for a tenant of the human variety rather than the feline. The recipe was contributed to The New Galt Cook Book (1898) by Mrs. Robertson of Woodstock.

Ad for Capers in The Canadian Grocer 1898

Ad for Capers in The Canadian Grocer 1898

I don’t exactly have a porcelain pie plate but I do have a small glass one so I’m going to use it. I buttered the pie plate and poured in some whipping cream. I hate eggs and didn’t want to waste them so I’m just cracking a couple of eggs in on top of the cream. I put some capers on each of the yolks and sprinkled some parsley on top. Finally I added some bread crumbs and bits of butter. I baked them in the oven at 375 F. for 15 minutes. The time and temperature are based on my previous less than successful experience making baked eggs on day 18. Once the eggs were brown on top and firm I removed the plate from the oven. Time to be brave and taste.

Mrs. Robertson of Woodstock remains a mystery because there are several possibilities. One of the more likely is Jessie Fisher, wife of George Robertson because her parents are Alexander Fisher and Georgiana Fyfe. One of her sisters is another contributor to the cook book.

Well panned eggs haven’t convinced me to like eggs but if you already enjoy this great food than panned eggs might be an interesting way to prepare them. They still taste like eggs but I do like the capers and the toastiness of the bread crumb topping. The capers go well with eggs and bread crumbs, butter and parsley are typical additions. I was surprised to see capers as an ingredient but based on ads and information in The Canadian Grocer magazines in the summer of 1898, capers were being imported just like olives and other sorts of pickled foods.

PANNED EGGS
Mrs. Robertson, Woodstock

For “panned eggs” take a porcelain pie-plate, butter it, pour in thick cream enough to fill it half full, drop in some eggs (four or five) side by side; place on each yelk a few capers; dust over them some minced parsley and some fine bread crumbs, and put flakes of butter here and there. Place in the oven, and let the eggs get firm and slightly brown on top.

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Day 210: Cure for Cuts and Bruises

I’ve been sick today so I looked at the recipes for stomach issues. They require someone who’s feeling well to prepare them as they involve working with raw beef or boiling flour or oatmeal. I’ve opted instead for a simple recipe that might help the scratches I’ve acquired along with my two little kittens. I’m using Miss Addison‘s recipe called Cure for Cuts and Bruises in The New Galt Cook Book (1898).

On the weekend I checked some of my supplies and realized I had lots of alum. It dates from the years of making pickles before people started questioning the safety of alum for internal consumption. According to the McCormick spice and herb site, alum is Ammonium Aluminum Sulfate. It is a crystalline powder used to keep pickles and other things firm. When I was a child my father had a styptic pencil he would wet and put on any cuts after he shaved. Apparently that was alum too since it is an astringent.

I wasn’t sure how much alum to dissolve in water. Is this like a poultice or is it more like an antiseptic? How long does the cloth have to stay on? Does it need to be changed? I decided to add as much alum to warm water until it had that astringent quality. I put 4 teaspoons of alum in 1/2 cup of warm water. I soaked a strip of cloth from my rag bag in the water and then wrapped it round my scratched arm. We’ll have to wait to see if the “cure” is effective but I suspect that if this was a fresh and still bleeding scratch it would at least help stop any bleeding and provide a bit of disinfection.

Miss Addison is either Grace Addison or Eliza Addison. Both are single adults in Galt in the 1891 census and they are sisters. Miss Grace Addison contributed some recipes under that name so I’m wondering if this recipe comes from Eliza. She’s the elder sister and I think the custom was to address the eldest unmarried daughter by just her surname while the other unmarried girls would include their first name along with the surname. Eliza Addison was born around 1842 in Galt. She became a teacher and taught in both Galt and possibly Toronto. She died in 1913 in Toronto.

Are you familiar with this cure? What other home remedies do you use or remember? I grew up with bread poultices for ingrown toenails and baking soda in water for indigestion.

CURE FOR CUTS AND BRUISES
Miss Addison

Cut fingers and bruises of all kinds if wrapped in a cloth wet in alum water heal with a rapidity that is truly wonderful.

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Day 209: Green Peas

Peas in Peter Henderson seed catalogue 1898.

Peas in Peter Henderson seed catalogue 1898.

I still have some of the vegetables my friend gave me yesterday so I’m going to try another recipe in the 1898 New Galt Cook Book. This time it is Green Peas and once again there is no contributor listed. I’m cooking some of these quick recipes this week because I also acquired two kittens and at the suggestion of another friend have named them after the two sisters Margaret and Frances McNaught who are responsible for this cook book. Maggie is a calico kitten and since her tabby sibling happens to be male he is named Frankie. They are eagerly eating their supper so I can now turn my attention to mine, including the peas.

I shelled the peas and had about half a cup. I soaked them and then put them in boiling water. Once again I couldn’t bear to let these delicious peas cook for 1/2 an hour so it was more like 15 minutes. I drained the peas and then had to decide how much butter to add. The only exact measure in the entire recipe is the 2 tablespoons of butter but there’s no indication of the quantity of peas. I simply added enough butter to coat the peas and then dug in with the same fork.

I used to hate peas. Growing up my brother and sister would sit in the garden, shelling peas and eating them raw. Not me. I would force myself to eat the cooked peas but never enjoyed them. All that changed when I discovered a happy medium — not mushy peas but not raw and of course a coating of butter helped. Now I’ve even started to eat them raw so the idea of going back to mushy peas is not appealing.

I was worried that the peas might not be as tasty since they we picked 24 hours ago but they were still delicous! Eating vegetables fresh from the garden or field is one of the joys of summer. Find some peas in the pod and dig in!

GREEN PEAS

Shell and leave in very cold water fifteen minutes. Cook in plenty of boiling salted water. They should be done in half an hour. Shake gently in a got colander to get rid of the water; turn into a heated deep dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir in fast and lightly with a fork two tablespoonfuls of butter. Eat while hot.

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Day 208: Spinach

I spent the afternoon with old friends. Our host had a wonderful vegetable garden and shared some of her abundance. I went home with lettuce, peas, and spinach. I’m going to use the spinach tonight to make the recipe in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) from an anonymous contributor. The recipe is simply titled Spinach.

Spinach from Peter Henderson Seed Catalogue 1898

Spinach from Peter Henderson Seed Catalogue 1898

I removed the spinach leaves from the stalks and rinsed them and then left them in a dish of cold water. I got some water hot with salt and boiled the spinach. I could not bring myself to boil the spinach for 20 minutes. It was more like 10 minutes – partly because I wasn’t cooking very much spinach. I drained the spinach and chopped it up. I put on some butter and was ready to sample. I did not add the hard-boiled eggs since I despise them.

Quite a few of the vegetable recipes in this cook book are not credited. I suspect that the women editing the cook book are probably responsible for them. Many years ago I helped with a community cook book and ended up looking for recipes to “fill” certain sections.

I happen to like cooked spinach at least if if still has a little bit of “bite” to it instead of being like baby food. The addition of vinegar is an interesting touch. This recipe will not make your family into spinach lovers like Popeye but if you already like it then this is fine.

SPINACH

Look over each leaf carefully, rejecting the wilted or discolored ones. Wash thoroughly, changing the water until satisfied the grit is all removed, then allow it to lie for a while in cold water. Put into salted boiling water and boil from twenty to thirty minutes. Drain, cut into coarse pieces with a sharp knife, put into a hot dish, sprinkle with a little pepper and fine bits of butter. Set in the warming oven for a few moments, garnish with slices of hard-boiled eggs, serve a piece with the spinach to each, also vinegar should be passed with it.

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Day 207: Ice-Cream Cake

We had all sorts of wonderful vegetables for lunch today but I wanted to make this dessert for my father since it sounds a bit like boston cream pie, one of his favourites. For some reason this cake recipe in The New Galt Cook Book (1898) is called Ice-Cream Cake. There are three recipes for this type of cake in the cook book. I’m making the one contributed by Mrs. James Hood.

Cake Layer for Ice-Cream Cake

Cake Layer for Ice-Cream Cake

I started the cake before lunch. I mixed the 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of butter together. One of the nice things about summer is that butter softens quickly! Next I added 1/2 cup of fresh milk and 3 eggs. I mixed up these liquid ingredients before adding the dry ones. I added 1 1/2 cups of flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder. These proportions seemed strange to me at first but everything went together well and the batter tasted fine. I poured it into two greased round cake pans and baked them in the oven at 350 F. for 25 minutes. They were just golden on top. I took them out of the oven and left them to cool a bit before I made sure I could get them out in one piece. While the cake continued to cool, I made the custard.

Cream Filling for Ice-Cream Cake

Cream Filling for Ice-Cream Cake

I put 1 cup of milk in a small saucepan and started it heating. Then I read the next instruction and removed some to mix with the 1 dessertspoon (2 teaspoons) of corn starch. I also mixed the 1 egg with the 2 tablespoons of icing sugar. Once the milk was about to boil it was time to start adding the rest of the ingredients. First i stirred in the cornstarch and then carefully added the egg and icing sugar mixture. I put the pot back on the heat and it started to thicken immediately. I struggled to keep it smooth but it was worth it as this was a nice creamy custard. I added a bit of vanilla but would have loved to try the pineapple option if that flavouring had been available. Once the cake was cool and the custard was cooler it was time to assemble the ice-cream cake.

Spreading the cream filling on the cake.

Spreading the cream filling on the cake.

I cut the top off one of the layers. I wasn’t sure if it was to be flat our create a hollow to hold the cream mixture. I opted for flat but later wished I’d created a bit of a dip in the centre. I spread the cream mixture on top of the bottom layer and watched it drip over the sides. I’m not sure if that is the intent but I left it. I puton the top layer of cake and realized I hadn’t made the boiled icing but I had people waiting for dessert. I opted to skip the icing — partly because I seem tomake horrible boiled icing and partly because none of us really needed the extra sweetness. It was time to serve the cake and get the opions of my tasters.

Mrs. James Hood is Margaret Ramsay. She was born in 1851 and married James McCrea Hood on May 1, 1872. They had three children Christina, James and Edwin. In 1911 the couple and their youngest son lived at 7 State street in Galt.

Ice-Cream Cake

Ice-Cream Cake

This cake was a hit! The cake is good on its own. I was very surprised how much I liked the cake, and the cream was very good too. I planned to take a section home to try with a boiled icing and ended up leaving it there. This sort of cake needs to be stored in the fridge and eaten the same day or the next. I suppose the cake and cream could be made ahead and then put together just before serving. This would be very nice with some of the fresh fruit around now.

ICE-CREAM CAKE
Mrs. James Hood

One cupful white sugar, two tablespoonfuls butter, softened, not melted, one-half cupful sweet milk, three eggs, one and one-half cupfuls flour, two teaspoonfuls baking powder. This makes two layers. When cold with a sharp knife remove the brown top of the under layer, spread the following custard between the layers and ice with boiled icing.
CUSTARD – One cupful sweet milk, one egg, two tablespoonfuls powdered sugar, one dessertspoonful corn starch. Heat the milk to near boiling, add corn starch dissolved in part of the milk, then add the egg well beaten with the sugar. Flavor with pineapple or vanilla.

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Day 206: Green Corn Pudding

Tonight I’m visiting my parents and noticed that the neighbourhood supplier of sweet corn has his roadside stand out now. I’m using some cobs of corn that were purchased there several days ago to make Green Corn Pudding using Mrs. Richard Strong’s recipe in The New Galt Cook Book (1898). I hope the corn isn’t too old to work in this recipe from the Vegetable section

The term green corn was used to indicate fresh sweet corn rather than dried corn or the type used for animal feed. I just have three cobs so I’m going to cut the recipe in half. I husked the three corn cobs and then cut the kernels off into a bowl. I added ¾ cup of milk and had to use one egg since it is hard to cut a raw egg in half! Sweet milk is fresh milk. I stirred well and added ½ tablespoon of corn starch. I shook in some salt and pepper and cut up about a tablespoon of butter.

Mrs. Richard Strong is probably Marion Jane Strickland. She was born in Galt Ontario around 1858 to Helen and George Strickland. Marion married 25-year-old druggist Richard Sidney Strong Jr in Galt when she was twenty-two. The couple was living in Wingham when their first child Francis was born. They were back in Galt for the birth of their next son and daughter. Unfortunately Marion was left a widow when Richard died in 1900 of a wasting disease — probably tuberculosis. He was just 45 years old and according to the death register the family lived on Melville in Galt at the time. Marion died in 1926

Back in January on day 2 of this project I made a recipe contributed by a Mrs. Strong and I thought she was Marion but now I’m wondering if it was her mother in law. I think the elder woman might not use her husband’s first name but the son’s wife would in order to distinguish between the father and son.

My mother liked it once she realized it wasn’t supposed to be a dessert. The corn is nice and tender and the sweet corn flavour and texture is the main thing I tasted. I’m happy the egg isn’t noticeable. This is a good way to use up leftover or older corn. It makes a dish that would be nice for anyone not able to eat the corn straight off the cob. The full quantity would easily feed a family as a side vegetable for supper. A modern cook could enhance this 1898 green corn pudding recipe by adding herbs or other seasonings.

GREEN CORN PUDDING
Mrs. Richard Strong

Take six ears of corn or one can of corn, one and half cupfuls of sweet milk, one egg, one tablespoonful of corn starch; pepper, salt and a little butter; butter a pudding dish and put the above in and bake three-fourths of an hour. To be taken as a vegetable.

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